Even if there wasn’t a magical, nonfiction-based tale at the heart of The Bee Tree, this title would be worth seeking out just on the strength of the eight pages of photo- and illustration-packed notes from the book’s creators. One fact from those notes stands out and gives some idea of the wonders to be found in The Bee Tree‘s main text and illustrations: “Over 750 species of trees can be found in just twenty-five acres … of Malaysian rainforest.”
In the pages preceding those notes, readers are plunged into that rainforest for the contemporary story of Nizam, a boy following his grandfather for the first time up a 120-foot wooden ladder for his clan’s annual honey hunt. It’s a moonless night, by the way. And there are lots and lots of big, angry bees. And fire, cleverly wielded. Equal parts adventure, botany, and folklore, The Bee Tree offers a captivating look both at an unfamiliar culture and a familiar sweetener that may become a bit harder to take for granted.